Copper Bezel wrote:
J Thomas wrote:Why would he know that?
If you don't mind going back to this, his deliberate abuse of terminology was in response to an abuse of terminology he found offensive, phrased in exactly the same way. The entire intended meaning of the message was that he didn't know what he was talking about, and I think it was fairly clear.
Sure. But people who dislike him may not read carefully. They will tend to see whatever they already expect. I'm not justifying that or excusing it, merely pointing out that it can be expected.
It's OK to ignore those people, but to attempt to communicate with them it might help to be very clear. Irony, satire, and sarcasm are often easy to misinterpret.
I will say that as a humanities person, I still find the bulk of the humanities less enlightening in a personal sense than, say, evolutionary biology, but I'd largely agree with the spirit of SirMustapha's nag that words mean things. (And despite depending on, and having much respect for, software design, I don't see any real difference between categorizing computer languages and cultural idioms. They're both practical knowledge within their domains and little else, but there's an expectation of an attempt at accuracy, as SirMustapha noted, if you're entering into an argument about anything.)
I expect most of us have seen this, but I'll explain it in case somebody hasn't.
When people argue, their arguments are kind of holographic. The story is that it's like a hologram. Each part of the hologram affects the whole thing, not just a little piece of the picture. So if you remove part of the hologram you don't get a picture with a hole in it, you get a fuzzier picture. LIke that -- we argue about something that has already gotten thousands of PhD dissertations -- like slavery, say -- and we make arguments that will fit into a forum post. The less space available, the fuzzier the arguments get. We lose the details but the main outline of the arguments remains at the resolution the bandwidth supports.
We're fuzzy about everything but we're more fuzzy about the things we don't care about. I think to a lot of xkcd readers, the distinction between Dada and Surrealism is not very important. If they thought it was important they would learn about it. Tell them it's important and the natural thought is "OK, how come? Isn't the answer 'a fish' either way?". Kind of like a humanities major who knows that computer nerds program with computer languages and tell jokes about binary. Why would more details matter to them? Kind of like I don't read PhD dissertations about the banking system in the antebellum south and the debts that paid for slaves, versus factors in yankee cities and the debts that paid for wages. TMI.
Ok, that's one.
Here's a second long explanation. There was a time when the philosophers who cared about words were divided into two main camps. The nominalists believed that meanings for words get created fresh inside each head. You pick meanings from your experience, and the meanings are shared to the extent the experiences are shared. The search for common meaning is a neverending adventure, and communication is an achievement not a given. The other school, the platonic realists, believed that the meanings are innate and realer than experience, that our experience provides us with imperfect representations of the real meanings.
When a realist says "Words Have Meanings" I hear him say "Each word has at least as many meanings as there are people who use it". The phrase does not mean the same thing to me, because my experience leads me to interpret it differently. When we have a conversation I attempt to get a feel for what the words mean for you, but it's a challenge. Not like it's a given and any misunderstanding is willful.
And when I attempt to understand somebody and repeatedly the payoff is disappointing, after awhile I don't try as hard.
People care about their own focus. If you want to persuade them that something they know little about is important enough to make less fuzzy across a forum post's bandwidth, then it's your chosen mission to convince them. They don't have an obligation to understand you. Some people might accept the challenge to try to learn as much as they can about everything, but you can't depend on them to succeed at that. Meanwhile, when they argue they attempt to make the most important outlines of their argument clear. They can't possibly be accurate about everything.
I apologize for making this so long. It's a balance -- write too short and people are guaranteed to misunderstand. Too long and they won't read it. I tend to err on the too-long side.
babble wrote:As far as I have seen, SirMustapha sometimes says that xkcd isn't really funny and that it really needs an editor. That's what I took you to mean by unpopular opinions, and that's what I was questioning. Because I never can understand why people get so personally wound up by him.
It happens. Sometimes it makes sense. Like, say there's a forum where Democrats are discussing how to destroy the GOP. And then some Republicans get onto it and argue that the Democrats shouldn't try to destroy the GOP at all, they should just disband. They would feel like the purpose of their forum is being violated. They are there to achieve a goal, not get trolled by Republicans. It makes sense for a forum like that to be member-only and throw out members who violate the purpose.
IMO it's OK to rate how much you like different strips. People can disagree if they want, or they can ignore you. But some people just don't want to see it and argue that posters they don't like should just go away. I don't know how many people that's driven off -- I mostly notice the ones who stay.
I've never seen him be gratuitously rude to a person, and I wonder if there really is a need for a forum like this to refuse to tolerate actual discussion/criticism of the material. If it were strong enough, his points would be easily refuted.
I don't think this is a matter of truth or falsehood. If somebody tells a joke and then somebody else argues that it wasn't funny, and they dissect the joke at length to explain why it wasn't funny, what response would refute that? You could perhaps dissect the joke the correct way to show that it does in fact obey the rules of humor and prove that it's funny after all.
Tastes differ. That's OK with me.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.